The other day, I received a great email informing me that SOLT and UK Theatre were partnering with The Creative Industries Independent Standards Authority (CIISA). The CIISA’s remit was to improve standards of behaviour across the creative industries. You can read all about it here.
Now the organisation is not expected to be up and running until next year, but reading about its planned advocacy work, its mediation service, etc got me excited about the potential change this organisation could make. However nobody seems to know whether their remit includes vocational training.
I sincerely hope that it extends to all areas of our industry, as at the very start of careers, this sort of service could provide a real change for good. I believe that an argument against it is that colleges are regulated by various organisations such as OfQual and OfSted, but as my experience at The MTA so bitterly demonstrated, there are many loopholes relying on those services.
Many people still believe that the Federation of Drama Schools (FDS) are regulating the industry, but of course, that organisation is simply a marketing front for the old guard of colleges. An organisation that heralds its own superiority simply by virtue of the fact that they were all at one time “accredited” colleges under the NCDT. As recent history has shown though, when wrong doings are discovered at one of their member colleges they simply duck down and wait for the fuss to pass. Their silence makes them complicit in the malpractice that regularly takes place.
Dance and Drama colleges are unique within Higher Education as the bullying and abuse that are so evident in our industry are accepted as the norm. The same unspoken threat of “you’ll never work if you make a fuss” that silences so many people in the professional world, also silences the voices during training.
The CIISA’s promise to look at the perverse culture of NDAs would benefit drama colleges, many of whom apparently use them to ensure that their reputations are not tarnished by the truth getting out. Indeed this appears to be a stumbling block for The MTA’s case against Trinity if our whistle-blowers’ information is to be believed.
So here’s a plea to the CIISA to include training programmes within their remit. Finally give staff and students a safe place to speak out about injustice and wrongdoing. People at vocational training courses are essentially being “groomed” to never speak out for fear of repercussions.
For our industry to thrive all areas of it need advocacy, mediation and accountability